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The Laborer And His Hire

The Laborer And His Hire image
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'Do you think that fathor could be persuadod to bay mo a guitar and let me take a term or two of lossons?" asked Clara, tho eldest daughter of tho Petersons, raising bor eyes, as sho spoke, from the algebra she was apparently studying. "1 do want to learn to play so much, and a guitar is not such a very expensive instrument," sho added, ooaxingly. "That is true," was tho mother's reply, "but it was only yeslorday that your father told mo how dull his business had been for the past few months, so I am afraid he would hardly consont just now. üur expenses at home have beon heavier sinco I hurt my hand - wo'vo had to raise Jano's wages, you know." "Well, when school is out, Iet mo tako Jane's place and let fathor givo mo the monoyhe pays hor. I couldn't do the washing, but, after tho prico of that is deducted, thore win still be a dollar a week which I might as well have. What do you say. inother? ISIay I?" asked Clara, eagerly. "Icouldpay for my guitar and a few lessons besides, during the vacation." "1 do not doubt you could get along very well with the work," roturned Mrs. Pelerson. 'Til speak to your father about it." "It would be so nic9 to feel that I am earning somethirii; for ruysolf ! " was Clara's commont, a3 she gathered up her book and slate, "and I think I should liko it better than teaching school. When I got my certifícate this spring I thought it would be an easy matter to step right into a placo to do something, but I didn't know that for every school thoro were as many applicants as there are pupils, and when that scurce failod I was quito in despair; but if I can take Jaao's place and earn moncy it will bo the very thing," and tho young girl's face brfghtened at tho thought. Mr. Petorson did not manifest any particular interest in tho plan when it was broached to him, but as he was nover enthusiastic about anything, his wife was obliged to bo content. "Clara's heart is sot on a gtiilar, James," said she. "She can just as well do the housework this summcr as not, and have tho nionoy to spend as she pleases, only don t forget that if sho earns it, it is hers just as much as if she wore a strangor who was working for us." " And don't she get pay in clotbos and board? It's her duty, as it is the duty of every boy or girl, to work," was her husband's roply, " That is all true, Jamos, but still it inspires a better feeling in children, boside cultivating business habits in them, to let them feel that they aro earning something, be it ever so little. And then it is a very comfortable thing to have nioney once íe a whilo to spond just as one pleasos. and not to have to beg or coax fer a dime. Thero is somsthing degrading in that," said tho lady, a little tingo of red mounting to ber cheek as if the remembrance of som o experience of that kind had left an unpleasant feeling in her own heart. " Yes, yes ; all very nico ! " growlod Mr. Peterson, sarcastically. 'Td liko to feel comfortable myself ia the way you speak of, and havo a few dollars to spond just as I please," and ho stalkcd off, muttering sometbing about tho unreasonableness of womankind. Household matters under tho now regime worked weil. Tho pretty giltbanded china tea set which they had never dared to uso when Jane was "smashing things in tho kitchen," as Robby express'ed it, were brought out from the high shelf in tho dining-room closet - tho cracklod glass pitcher of delicate amber tint that Mrs. Peterson prizod as one of her choicosttable treasures came to light from the corner to which it had been relegated for fear of disaster when it had been discoverod that Jane had oceasienally used it to dip water with in tho kitchen, and little fancy odd pieces of majolica, such as they U3ually kopt only forcompany U3o, wero now convortod into ovory day luxuries without the foar th&t a careless kitchen maid would break thoni entiroly or destroy their beauty by nicking thoir thin edges. 'Anybody would think thut we wore going to have a party every day," said Httle Alice, as sho gazed adrairiniily at the bnght castor and clean, shining cruets freshly filled each morning. "We are having the pootry of housekoeping; that is all," replied Mr?. Peterson. "The prose got too awfully prosy, didn't it, motherP said Rob, laughingly. "I can stand prose, on a pinch, as well as any othor boy but the way Jane used to slap tho dishes and eata,blos on the table was a caution! Half tho timo with no spoons in the spoonholdor and egg sticking botween tho fork prongs - ngh! here was prose for a f act." "Do you know the reason she was so carolessP" interrupted .Clara savagely. "It was bocauSe nothing here belonged to her. If she had ownod the dishes sho would have been careful. When she has a housa of her own it will bo different- sho won't whack and bang as sho does now." "Vhen I used to sse her washing up tho tea things I alwaysfolt likosingmg, TheOx broke in to the China Shop,' " said Bob. "Por thing! her ftngers woro too thick tohandle nico dishes " Nocrumbs disfigured our tablocloth now-a-days - no jumping up and running after long-forgotten articles; the concomitants of tho table were neatness and order, which mado the plainost meal palatablo. Tho coffee was quite equal to that concocted by Jane; tho steak was so juicy that Mr. Peterson several times affirmed that McBlung, the butcher, kept botlor meats than formerly; tho seed cake, of wlich ho was very fond, was pronounced superior to anything they had had for a twelvemonth; one or two new kinds of desert wero introduced, acd moro than once enquired for by the head of tho house in such away as to show tho young girl that her father relishod tho nice faro provided for him. But not a word abdtit huying the guitar - not a hintregardingClara's wages! "Hore's my chance, mother!"exclaimed the youug housekeeper ono day, coming with a copy of a city daily into tho room whero Mrs. Potorson was seated. "Father owes me six dollars, as it is just six weeks to-day since I begau tho housework, and thero is a guitar advertisod for six dollars, instruction book thrown in. Wül you teil father about it and get tho mocey for me whem he comes to dinner? Tho owner says it lias only been used two months. It is a good chanco, and I will send for it to-morrow," and in anticipation of tho pleasuro in store; Clara skipped off gaily to the kitchon, thore to manifest hor gratitude by preparing tho most savory dishes she could think of. Mr6. Peterson uttored a littlo sigh as the door closed after her daughtor. Eighteen years association with Mr. Petorson had taught hor the difñculty of tho task before her. He wa3 a good husband; what a pity that hocouldn't bo made to see things difïerently! "Six dollars for a guitar ! Why, you and Clara must think I'm mado of money1'1 was tho impr.tiont comment of tho husband, as Mrs. Peterson read him the advcrlisemont and toM him of Clara's wishes. "I havon't any money to spond for such trullos!'' "But James, when Jane was nero you paid hor rogularly ovory moctb, andoftenor. if sho noudcd it. without demurring to it, and I'm suro Clara has rendt red na really moro effectivo sorvico," persisted tho mother. "Nothing mora than her duty," was the careloss responso. Then sinkirg into his arm chair, ho bogan a perusal of the morniug paper, and in two minutos had forgotten tho wholo subject. Hot tears rolled down tho flushod faco of tho disppointed ClaTa, as sho overheari tho converjation from thediningroorn, whero she was engaged in placing tho dinner on tho tablo. Upon tho plea of a bad headache sho excused horsolf from the family, aud in the privacy cf horown room "took u goodcry." Vory bitter were her thoughts, and in hor anger at what sho deemod her fathor's injustice, sho last sight of tho many kindiiesses and the real affeclions I13 had 1)9stowed upoa her. Sho wont about her work in alistless way, quite in contrast wilh her former cheerfulness, but her mind was bu3y in planning another way to earry out her project. Sho onquired of every farmer sho knew, wroto to those whoso ñames and address sho could get hold of, and made applica tion for a position as teacher for thelato summor term of a country school. Ten days after, her offorts wero rewardod by an engagement at a salary of C18 a month as instructor for oight weoks at a schoól Cvo miles from Milford, the village in which sho livod. Twenty-four dollars of this must bo deducted for board, leaving her just S12 lor hor services. " enoügh io buy a guitar, any way," was her grim comment es sho announced to tho family that sho was going to leach the remainder of the summer. Tho next wcok sho left homo to begin her new work, and Jano was reinstatod in tho kitchon at tho Peterson1 s, but sho found the family had, somehow, grown hard to pleaso. "I wish you'd have Jane ruake somo cookioslike thoso Clara usod to niako;" or, " suppose, Jane, that you broil tho steak hetoafter, the way Clara did,'1 Mr. Peterson would siy; Johnnie and Rob and Alico were not backward in askiDg her euch uncomfortablo questions as why she didn1t set the tablo pretty, and why the goblets and spoons did nol shino as tboy used to when Clara did the work. These and similar uncomplimontary remarks were overy-day occurronces, and led Jano to think thatCljira's wavs had completely spoited the Peterson family. Mes. Poterson, who found the house lonely without the companionship ol the oldest daughtor, and deprived by her crippled hand from taking an active part in tho household duties, now spent an afternoon frcquently ut the little store of which hor husband was proprietor. One sultry day as she sat there, a plain looking woman alightod from a wagon in front of tho door, and entering tho store, asked to fio shown somt) men's ready mado clothing. "They are for my boy," she ozplained. "l'vo been promising him all tho spriDg ho should have a good suit o1 clothes this year. He's worked awful hard and he'searned m.' Hisfathorisclear set agin lottlug him havo 'em, but I hain't tho hcart to disappoint a good stiddy feller like our John, and 30 I come in lo-day to get 'om." "That's right, Mrs. Stillman; í can suk you exaetly," repliod Mr. Peterson. as he briskly pulled out his goods to exliibit, recognizing in his customer the wifd of a wealthy farmer in that vicinity. "You seo. our John has boen worth his woight ia goldto us this yoar," said tho old lady, turning to Mrs. Peterson. " Our bost hand took sick and so John was called on lo the doublo share - and he's took moro interest and serrad us better than any hand we had on tho farm. He7s a bashful boy, but kind o1 high in his notions about keoping liimself fixed np, and ono day, says he, " mother, I ain't got no cloihes fit to go to town in or attend singing school or church ; so I want you to coax pap to got me somo this summer. 11] work hard to earn 'em,' says he, and sure enough he has." " And his fathor consonted ? " asked Mrs. Peterson, who had grown interested in tho boy's strugglo3. "Not much he didn't ! " was tho old lady's answer. " 1 ain't good at argryment as somo folks, but I did teil him that it was rediklus to refuso to pay John, just bocauso ho was bis son. If ho'd bon a stranger, scz I, you would have forked over the pay without a word, and yet no strangor would a' dun for you this summer what John has done." Hor attontion was drawn this moment to an inspection of the various coata, vests and pantaloons which the shopkoepor was doxtrously placing before her. "I wint to got him somothing tnat'll picase him, and this fifleen dollar suit would jest about ticklo him to piecos, but I won't havo a cout to pay for H in cash, Mr. Peterson. You'll havo to tako it in trado. I'm makiog a right smart lot of butter now, and l'll bring you all tho oggs I gather, and if you want to ship chickens, I havo some coming on; so it won't De long till tho clothes is paid for." "Oh, a rich man like. Mr. Stillman can afford to pay cash for such goods as these," replied Mr. Poterson, who was reluctant to tako the produce and yot anxious to niake the sale. "Of course he could, but he ain't doing tho buying of these clothes, as I was oxplaining to this lady a minute ago. He says John hain't any need of a dress-up suit; but, la! tho boy says he can't respect himsolf if ho is forced to wear his old rags all the time, and it's truo; the clothes afarmer works in ainH fit to wear for any othor purposo; so when I found Stillman was so stubborn and it was having such a bad effect upon John, I conoludod to take the marter in hand myself . Why, the boy had built up so on these clothes, that when his father refusod so positivo, poor John actually lost his appetite. He worked right along, but it was in a sort of joyless, heartbroakin' way. I teil you, it pays in aD economical pint o1 view to have people around yon that ai-e hopeful and cheerful. If they think they havo to drag along forover, and never havo a dollar of their own to spend as thoy like. H opérales aia their work; so I wasnt long in making up my mind that Jotu must havo tho clothes, i f 1 had to pay for 'cm with my butter monoy. "You see," lowering hor yoico ta a confidential key and address'.ng her sympathetic listenor. "I was the moro determined to do it becauso it was just such actions that drove away our oldcst boy frotn homo. Ho was a good deal liko John, only fondor o' books and reading. Well, nothing would do Joo but. he must havo a dictionary. Ho begged and bogged for it. Ho said evcrybody ought to own an unabridged, and that Mirandy and Kato would grow up to bo as ignorant as horsos if thoy wasn't encouraged to study and pickup information, but doar mo! whon StilJman heard the prico o' them big diction arios was ten or twelvo dollars, ho just put his foot down on it, and that setllefl tho matter. Woli. then, Joe got to planning and ruado his fathor promiss not to hiro a certain Öxtra hand that season, and he would do doublé, and tho poor follow liked to havo killed himself werking, and af ter all, Stillraan wouldn't buy tho book, nor pay him wagos so that ho could buy it. Tho upshot of il was that Joo got rilod up and went right off iu themiddle of the summor and hircd out lo old man Billings, whoso farm joius oursi, and Bilhnsrs told mo ho never in his life saw such a worker. He paid hitn good wago3, too, and poor Joo got his book at, last, but it made his father mad. and so he told Joe he eouldn't como back any more. It ncarly upset me. 1 was poorly for a long Üme, but iinally Joo and hi3 faliiGr mado it up and woro good friends agin, but he's never boon at homo vcry much since. Ho worked summers and taught school winters, and poddlod fruit trees in vacation. At last ho got to college, and now ho's boon reading law, and h going to bo admitted to practiee, and uo thanks to us nor nobody. But don 't yon seo how hard Stillman bas mado it for tho poor boy? Folks say it has boen a good drill an.i helped to mako a man of Joo, but his heart nover will foei jusfc thó samo toward his fathei1 as if ho'd showed somo svmpathy and had patienoo with liim. Yoh see folks as has children must be patiënt with their whims somotimes. It .'liü't agoin' to hurt us, and itmakes tliom liappier. So you can eo now," she addod, brightening up and takng up her bundlo, "just why I want to humor John with tbeso clothes. Poople aro often unjust to their children and drivo 'om awry from home, but they gonorally livo to find that no stranger" wiil ever do for them and tako an intoro3t in sfiving for 'om liko their own would." ShakiDg hands with her audiiors, tho o!d lady clamberod into hor wagon, and giving a farewell friemlly nod, drove away. "She's a good taiker isn't she?" was Mr. Petei3on's commont, as tho wagon and its quant old driver disappeared around a cornor. "She's a gp.nuino philosopher! 1 haven't heard as many practical tmths in months as sho gave us in that ltttle talk," replied Mrs. Petovson, hoartily. ';Oh, she's a sensible woman; but just think of that contemptible old repróbalo rofusing to pay that, boy for liis hard work! It's a shartie for anyono to act so," said Ihe shopkoepor indignantly. "The boy sho speaks of is a good, hardworking fellow; scarcoly evei leaves tho farm, and whon ho does, attends lo his business without any fooling. His fathor botter bo gonorous, or at least humor him onco in a whilo, or maybo he'll lose his servieos altogethor, just as ho did Joe'". Tifo old lady reasoned protty woll about hnnoring a chiid'sfancies oocasionally." "Do you really think so, Jamos?" asked his wife, oyiiij him keenl} as she spoke. 'Why, certainly I do, Julia! What makes you look at me so queerly?" said Mr. Peterson, beginning to look uncomfortable under hor steady gtze. "I was just thinking how natural it is to see the moto in our brothor's oye and j et not pluck tho beaiu out of our ovn.pyo," was her qniet answor. "What uTider tho sun do you ninan, Julia? J don't understand your ooaundrums," said Mr. Peterson hotly. "What havo 1 donefto my children that bears a resoaiblance to o)d Siillman's tvoatmont of his boys?" ''l'ho cases ar3 not parallel, but thal the principio involved is much tho samo you must admit when you tlunk itovcr. Diü not Clara bog usto discharge Jano Ihis summer, that sho might earn tho money, and didn't sho do the work to your ontirosatisfaction? Did sho not do it so wcll that you havo nover been quite well satisiied since with Jano's cookiug? Sho wanted a guitsr and expectod to spend her earnings forit; you regarded it 8S only R whini md thought it was a íeedless expenso and rcfusod hor; acd only jast a moment sgo you endoraed all that Mr. Stillman said about huincnng our chllderen's faneies ccoaslonally. Then perhapsyou didn't noties, although l did, how tho disappointment hurt Ciara. Sho worked on but all "the spatklo and life was gone out oí it. Sho knew i it had been Jaoo, you would havo paid tho wages without :t word, and sho began to suspect yon ol being iiDJust. Then like poor Joe Stillman, she left homo to work for others where ihe would bo sure to got her pay. You havo"nevor objoctod to paying Jane since Clara's departuro, but thero is never a day passes that you do not draw somo uncomplimentary compnrlson botweon hor methods of serving up your meals and the way Clara did. Stillman drove off his own son by his injustico and had to iill his placo by a stranger who cared nothing for his intorests and consenuoDtJy was not so valuablo to hire. I only hopo tho analogy cnd3 there,'' sho added, with a tremor in her voice. "Joe never roturned to his father's house- he becamo alienated and as tho old mothor said, aithough they wade it all up, his hoart will nover feel just the same toward his father, li you ilo not soosomo resemblanco betweon tho two casos, James, itis because you will not not." It would bo difücult to describe the various omotions exporienced by Mr. Peferson during his wife's speech. Firsr, hot with ang-or, he could with difficulty rastrain a sharp roply. But as .she went on his feolings softened, rocogni.'.ng tho truth cf her words, until a:, last, when sho touched tremblingly on the hope, implied rather spoken that Clara's absenco from home would not bo a lastingonoasin the case of Joe Stillman, ho turned away with a half groan, llatiring to thu back end of tho store, hosoated himsolf in his old easy chair and gavo himself up to such a self-searching as he had never dono befara; his wife msanwhilo had quiotly slipped out, wisely leaviug the leaven to woik. "Stillmaa could afl'ord to got his boy a dictionary, for ho's rloh- owns two or threo big farms," he srgued, tryiLg to satisfy himself that ho'was jnstified in not paying Clara her wages. No - it woukl Hot do. He could not answor all the objeotions, and at last he was convinced that ho had been the perpetratoi' of a wrong just as uuch as had been tho man whbm ho had so loudly donounced a3 a "eontomptible old repróbate." While he feit humiliated, tie could but ackowlodge that his wifo liad dono him a genuino servicö in thus bringinghim face to faco with hisfault, and as he walked slowly homoward ho resolvod that tho lesson should not ba lost. The cheoriest feature of his daily üfe and ono of tho brightest welcomes to his hearthstone that winter, was tho pleasant sound of a tinkling guitar. iccompanied by tho sweet voices of Clara and littlo Alico; and in thelr pleasure, he realizad, as he had never dono beforu, at what a littleoutiay can sometimos be procured ahappinoss that a pure and onduring.


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Ann Arbor Democrat